There are more media choices available today to ordinary citizens than ever before. In fact, in the United States and in many other nations, citizens are dramatically decreasing the amount of time spent consuming news through traditional media, such as nightly news broadcasts and daily newspapers. Instead, citizens are dramatically increasing the amount of time spent on a vast array of alternative news resources. Therefore, media outlets—whether on television, in print, or on the Internet—need to digest often-complex policy issues into small snippets that can be understood and communicated in a short amount of time.
But just how do the media focus upon a relatively limited number of policy issues for their daily reporting’ How do the media prioritize what stories and issues are printed and broadcast’ After reading the assigned chapters in McCombs’s book, you will recognize just how the reporting cycle occurs at major news outlets across the country. Although the diversity of media outlets is stunning, it is remarkable that there are also important similarities in how news outlets choose what to report. They often choose sensational items that people can easily understand, such as issues of crime and violence, a deteriorating economy, or threats to the natural environment. Issues such as taxation also get substantial and consistent coverage because they affect the pocketbooks of individual Americans.
As you review this week’s Learning Resources, pay close attention to the role of the media in public policymaking. Consider how the media acts as an outlet for the promulgation or blocking of public policy agenda items.
With these thoughts in mind:
Select a public policy you are most interested in. Then, select one media outlet that has promulgated or attempted to block the debate on the public policy issue you chose. International students should consider how the news media in their home country has promulgated or attempted to block debate on a selected national public policy issue.